The Dodgers were initially in the midst of heavy trade negotiations with the Twins regarding second baseman Brian Dozier. Dozier hit 40 home runs, stole 18 bases, and had a 5.9 win season in his breakout 2016 campaign. With the Twins rebuilding and Dozier under contract through 2018, he is a great trade chip for them especially with prospect Jorge Polanco ready to takeover. Polanco is a bad shortstop but okay second baseman, so a trade of Dozier allows the Twins to move Polanco to second while also getting the prospects they would receive back for Dozier. It is a good idea to move him, but his asking price is also very high and for good reason.
Rather than pay the price, which was Jorge De Leon and another good prospect, for Dozier, the Dodgers opted to trade De Leon for Logan Forsythe straight up. As FanGraphs points out, Forsythe is basically a Dozier light. Forsythe is also under control through 2018, he can do a bit of everything just like Dozier can but not quite as well. He hits less home runs, runs a bit less, plays slightly worse defense, and is a tad older. But with a 4.0 and 2.8 win season as a regular second baseman, the Dodgers opted to pay less for a slightly worse player.
It looks like this sets the Forsythe trade sets the market for what Dozier should cost. He should either cost a better prospect than De Leon or a similar quality prospect with an additional prospect added on. For reference sake, Keith Law ranked De Leon as the game’s 73rd best prospect. He was higher on Law’s board last year, but some around the game are of the opinion that the deception that led to De Leon’s success in the minors will not be as effective in the majors. Braves lefty Sean Newcomb was ranked 81, so starting with Newcomb and adding on would be a somewhat decent starting point. I put a poll on twitter proposing Newcomb, Dustin Peterson, and Alex Jackson for Dozier that received an even 50-50 split on which team would say no. That signifies to me that it’s a reasonable concept, although I have many more Braves followers than Twins followers on twitter so the poll likely had some Braves bias attached.
If the Braves were going to make a move for Dozier, a one for one deal might make more sense. I could see Ozzie Albies being a reasonable concept for the Twins. Albies, now at second, can still play shortstop and it would allow the Twins to move Polanco over to second and slot Albies at shortstop early next season. Six years of Albies for two years of Dozier sounds like a reasonable deal, to me. The question then would be whether the Braves should make that type of a move.
The Braves competitive window is just now starting to open up. With roughly eight or nine top 100 prospects and a number of other quality arms and bats not too far off the list, we could see the Braves start to graduate some of these prospects into the majors and/or trade a number of them for quality major league assets. It would be a commitment to trying to win within the next two years if the Braves did move a player like Albies for Dozier. I see arguments on both sides for whether that would be worth it or not.
When you factor that the Braves were 30th in home runs last year, slotting Dozier into the middle of the lineup makes it look a lot more formidable than it currently does. The Braves do not want Jace Peterson to be the regular second baseman. They would rather him be a utility player, which would suit him and the team very well considering his left-handedness and positional flexibility. The only weak spots offensively for the Braves would be third base and catcher, if they traded for Dozier.
So who would they even be getting if they acquired Dozier? The 40 home runs were a career high by 12, but it did come with a big increase in hard hit rate and fly ball percentage. I would think last year was the best year Dozier will have in his career, but he has been on average a four win player since his first full season. A four win second baseman would be the type of player I would be expecting if the Braves were to trade for him, who has the upside to be what he was last year and the downside to be a league average hitter at a traditionally weak hitting position.
No second baseman has hit more home runs than Dozier since his first full season. While that often comes with low batting averages, Dozier’s power makes pitchers cautious when pitching to him and elevates his walk rate. He has posted a walk rate as high as 12.8% in the past, but is consistently around 8% which is very reasonable. His low average suppresses his on base percentage, but he should hover around a .330 on base rate with a lot of power and consistency on the base paths.
In looking at what the Braves need to be competitive, Dozier would be close to the ideal fit. The Braves weakest three positions are catcher, third base, and second base. Their weakest attribute offensively is power. And pairing a successful right-handed hitting middle infielder with Dansby Swanson could help his development.
My thought is, with the depth the Braves have in the minors I would make a move for Dozier in either of the two presented options. I would either deal Albies, who while talented has some warts (very high BABIP in the minors which may be artificially boosting his numbers), straight up for Dozier or I would put together a package around one of our starting pitchers. While the Braves would be making a push to compete a bit quicker than expected, the depth in the minor league system means they would not be “mortgaging the future” to try and compete.